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Family and Intergenerational Literacy and Learning

22 February 2021 | Yoseph Abera Research

FILL's (Family and Intergenerational Literacy and Learning) purpose is to improve the literacy learning and instruction of both adults and children, create a culture of learning among family members and support parents in their role as primary educators of their children. FILL's philosophy is that family is the beginning of learning.

The purpose of this FILL programme was to provide inclusive, equitable and relevant literacy education to adults and children from disadvantaged families and communities in three selected Community Learning Centres (CLCs) in Ethiopia. The beneficiaries were 98 children and 101 adult learners aged 15 and above. The two groups of learners were adult learners in the functional adult literacy programme (IFAE) and their children who were attending the government pre-primary education programme known as “O Class”.

This project evaluation was focused on implementation with the following detailed activities:

  • Evaluate the overall performance of family and intergenerational literacy implementation both at home and village-based family learning.

  • Evaluate the instructional delivery methods used by adult education facilitators, O class teachers and supervisors to engage parents and children together in learning in order to improve the quality of literacy and parent-child joint learning sessions.

  • Gather different views on the FILL programme actors, mainly from learners (both adults & children), facilitators and school principals,

  • Identify prospects, challenges and lessons learned and pointers for action in future trials.

Field visits were conducted to study the state of implementation and the quality of joint parent-child learning activities in order to consider FILL in future plans and possible up scaling. During the field visit to each CLC, the evaluators interviewed learners (IFAE adult learners and O Class children), IFAE facilitators, O Class facilitators, school/CLC directors, woreda/District Education Department focal points and literacy providers (focal points from each pilot university). In addition to this, observation of a joint parent-child learning session at each CLC was conducted.

Key family literacy activities

The table below describes key family literacy activities especially home-based and village-based joint parent-child sessions which were conducted in the CLCs visited by the team at Goromti of Ambo town and Model No.2 school in Debre Birhan town. It should be noted that, there were no home-based and village-based family literacy activities conducted in Birhan lehitsanat CLC in the SNNPR region.

Key Family Literacy Activities


Lesson Topics

Home-based activities conducted

Village-based activities conducted

Measuring instruments

Parents asked their children to categorize measuring equipment found in their homes.

They measured both liquid and solid matter with their children by using locally available measuring instruments at home.

Children shared in the class what they had learned with their parents at home.

Both parents and children listed what had been learned together at home for other participants in the class.

Both parents and children reflected on what they had done in their home together and they present the result of their joint home-based learning in the class.

The school gave an award to both parents and children based on their performance.

Learning about the importance of peace in their locality

At home parents asked their children what peace means

They also asked them what patriotism means and its importance to their locality and the country at large.

Parents asked their children about the dark side of internal displacement (causes and effects) etc

Parents and children reflected in class together and presented the result of their joint home-based learning.

The school gave an award to both parents and children based on their performance



They learn letters and count numbers in different scenarios both at home and in the school based on their vernacular languages i.e Afan Oromo, Amharic and Sidama Affu.

Families with best practice (in preparing home based support material like matching alphabet with word or pictures) share their efforts with parents through discussion or question and answer.

Participants of the project discuss the importance, challenges and successes from the implementation of family literacy learning with the school directors, facilitators and teachers

Word construction

Identifying and writing words or slang with vowels and consonant letters.

Performance evaluation

In collaboration with the school director, IFAE facilitators and O Class teachers continuously assesses the performance of children and parents and document the result obtained

Content of the family literacy programme

In all the three CLCs, the major learning units available for the family literacy classes were : reading, writing and arithmetic, basic mathematical operations, identification of sense organs, personal hygiene, environmental hygiene, feeding system for children, how to use technological devices, listening to short stories and songs, how to live in peace with others (a major current problem of the country), how to protect elderly individuals and children with HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases, measuring things and comparing the results, family planning, saving, patriotism, how to avoid internal displacement (current scenario in Ethiopia), map-reading (country &village basis), water sanitation and last but not least is knowing and how to exercise basic human rights.

Key findings on the pilot programme

  • The two CLCs facilitators (both adult and children facilitators) informed us that they have joint sessions for two days per week for facilitation in the class and one day separately.

  • Both facilitators planned together for the joint session and have performed better.

  • Both facilitators have designed a special mechanism to assess whose family better performs the joint session and awarded them openly. This mechanism assisted other families in the centre.

  • Facilitators were able to design best locally made teaching aids for the participants which further enhanced their involvement in the programme both at home and in the class.

  • In the joint-learning, both children and adults performed better in their local language (Afan Oromo, Sidama Affu etc)


  • Based on the Education Road Map recommendations the Ethiopian Adult and Non-Formal Education curriculum frame work should be revised and should consider including intergenerational literacy and learning.

  • Both IFAE & O class facilitators should have the means to get in-service and pre-service training to better perform FILL in the context of lifelong learning in Ethiopia.

  • It is also recommended that there should be a shift from Learning Center (LC) to Community Learning Center (CLC) in order to accommodate multiple literacy.

  • All tiers of government structures should be responsible for raising awareness on the importance of family and intergenerational literacy using print and electronic media

  • There should be up-scaling of model family literacy practices to disseminate in other regional states and encourage participation in community-based programmes.

  • Because of the importance of family literacy in the improved provision of inclusive, equitable and quality formal education, FILL as a program should be included in the up-coming ESDP VI plan.

  • School directors and supervisors should play a vital role in providing resources, mobilizing parents and contributing to the design and implementation of the family literacy programme.

  • The Federal, Regional and District level Adult and Non-Formal Education directorate, higher learning institutes, funding organizations should provide training, and on-site technical support for better implementation of family literacy program

  • To maintain the quality of FILL, family literacy learning materials should be prepared by adult education professionals only.

  • In order to ensure sustainability and a variety of community needs, family and intergenerational literacy and learning should be supported by a budget.

  • Last but not least, all non-formal education programs should be designed and implemented within the context of lifelong learning.


Project Partners: Federal Ministry of Education, Three Regional Education Bureaus (Oromia, Amhara and SNNPR), Three districts, Three Higher Learning Institutes (Ambo University, Debrebirhan University and Hawassa University), and the UNESCO Cluster Office in Addis Ababa.

Funding Partner: UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Hamburg, Germany